Size Becomes a Non-Factor
Computers tend to double in speed (or shrink to half their size) every two years. If that continues, by 2018, we'll be getting close to the end of how small the circuits can get (or at least that's what they say) because at some point you're using circuits that are only one-molecule wide. Efforts to make them smaller than that will probably, like, make you travel back in time or some shit.
By that point though, a system quite a bit more powerful than your PS3 would fit on a device small enough that a dog could swallow it. So, we're talking about gaming over a cell phone-sized device that' just short of movie quality.
Of course, the problem with making handhelds smaller and smaller is that you're making that screen smaller and smaller, too. What good are spectacular graphics on a tiny little screen you have to squint to see?
The answer is, of course ...
Your Eyeball Becomes the Monitor
VRD (Virtual Retina Display) is a system they're working on at the University of Washington that will project images right into your damned eyeball.
The idea right now is for Heads-Up Displays for pilots and soldiers and such, but it'll be just a matter of making it small enough and cheap enough for the rest of us. By 2018, a device, no more intrusive than a pair of sunglasses and a Bluetooth, should be able to put you right into a virtual world that fills your whole field of vision. The graphics won't be real-life quality (that's further away than people think), but it should still be really fucking cool.
That' why we talk about the end of the home console here. You'll be getting to the point where the home "tethered-to-your-TV" system doesn't offer any advantages to your handheld, just as a land-line phone doesn't offer much over your cell these days.
It's no good talking about how home consoles will always look better, either. Already, graphics are getting to the point that non-hardcore gamers can't tell the difference from one generation to the next. That's why the Wii and even the PS2 are selling like crazy. The masses don't know what pixel shaders are and don't care. Graphics have advanced to the point that people look like people and dragons look like dragons.Once handhelds reach that same threshold, most users just won't see a reason to play the one you can't take with you.
What Will Suck About It
About five minutes after the eye-projection technology hits the market, advertisers will find a way to superimpose ads over every damned surface you look at. It will detect your eyes staring at some girl' boobs, and suddenly across her cleavage you'll see the URL for www.soyouliketolookattitties.com.
Then, we'll find ourselves looking forward to ...